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"Lights in the Dark"

Lights in the Dark

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Author's Notes

-=Chapter 1: First Night=-

The Midnight Runner, Excalibur's ultrasonic airplane, approached its destination, the grounds of the Xavier Institute of Higher Learning, against a cold blue, cloudless winter sky. It flew low across Breakstone Lake, banked to the left and approached the landing portal hidden in the hills about half a mile from the main building. The plane's pilot was an experienced hand at this -- back in the days when he still was with the X-Men, Nightcrawler had piloted the old Blackbird in and out of that tunnel more times than he could remember. But now he came here as a visitor, and thankfully purely for a social call, on a holiday visit to old teammates and a family he had not expected to have. Beside him, as his co-pilot, sat Shadowcat. As the plane touched down and rolled into the tunnel, Kurt noticed that she fell silent. This after keeping up an almost non-stop conversation with Kurt and their two passengers, Amanda Sefton and Peter Wisdom, for nearly two hours. It suddenly struck Kurt: It had been here, in this system of underground hangars and passages that a thirteen-year-old Kitty Pryde had single-handedly fought and defeated a demon, demolishing large parts of the equipment in the process. The demon, one of the N'garai, had attacked while the X-Men were away, picking up Kitty's parents from the airport. They had come from Deerfield as a holiday surprise, and, as Kurt now remembered, that was the last time Kitty had celebrated Hanukkah with both of her parents. Carmen and Teri Pryde divorced the year after, and now both were in a witness protection program (after Mr. Pryde became the leading witness against a Yakuza group) and their daughter was no longer able to see either of them.

"So, da wären wir, Kätzchen!" he said to his teammate, trying to lighten her somber mood. "Hope you don't mind I drive, but after what you did to the Blackbird..."

Katherine Pryde smiled, her eyes softening: "I knew you would remember. But you haven't called me Kätzchen in, what, two years? Fuzzy-elf."

Kurt grinned. No, he hadn't, he thought as he carefully guided the plane into the third hangar, which had been added at the last reconstruction of the complex. They came to a full stop, and as they disembarked they immediately saw a small welcoming committee consisting of Storm, Rogue and Magneto coming from the neighboring hangar, under the nose of the new Blackbird. This was the one Forge had constructed a couple of years ago -- its design with twin rudders and swept-forward wings had immediately made the members of Excalibur nickname it the Thunderbird 2 after the 1960s British TV series. The far hangar was empty at the moment. Normally it housed the X-Men's converted Lockheed RS-150 (which still bore the legend 'Kitty's Dragon' next to the cockpit), but now it was in Britain. Banshee and Psylocke, who were going to spend Christmas and Hogmanay with their loved ones, had flown it over so that they and the stay-at-home Excaliburites would not be planeless in an emergency during the holiday season.

Rogue was the first to come up to the visitors, enthusiastically hugging first Kurt (who was, after all, her foster brother) and then Kitty, kissing her on the cheek. Kitty at first froze, but kissed her back, French style, when she realized that she was unaffected by the Southern mutant's power. The last time they had met, Rogue had still been unable to control her gift and curse to absorb the abilities and memories of everybody she touched skin to skin. Kitty looked at her former teammate quizzically, but Rogue inclined her head toward the silver-haired man standing nearby. Kitty's eyes brightened in realization: Magneto was projecting a bio-electric field to 'isolate' the two.

"Magnus has gotten real good at this, Kit," said Rogue, adding, "an' these days he hardly ever de-magnetizes credit cards when he does it," with a mischievous twinkle. Kitty reached for her wallet, but then broke out giggling instead.

Magneto smiled at her: "It's okay. I can sense it. Nothing to worry." Not as effusive as Rogue, he merely shook her hand: "Nice to see you again after all these years." When Magik returned, Kitty only had time to visit her and Generation X in Snow Valley and to make a short excursion to Crossroads, but not to call on her former teammates in Salem Center.

She looked deep into his eyes, which to her subjective feeling looked a bit out of place in his young face, as if they had been the only outer feature of his body not rejuvenated by Mutant Alpha. She almost sensed the seven decades of his biography when she looked into his steel-blue eyes. The suffering, the happiness, the unspeakable horror of growing to manhood in a death camp, the determination that carried him through, regret over the loss of so many loved ones, some because of his own mistakes, and, dared she say it, true wisdom grown from experience. Since their last friendly parting (in Latveria), Magneto had abandoned the X-Men, become a villain again, had his brain wiped by Professor X, regained his memories, returned to "the fold" and moved together with Rogue. Kitty had helped set up and sometimes led a new super-team in Britain, gone through a succession of Excalibur headquarters, saw her best friend die of a virus created by a crazed enemy, broken up for good with Colossus, started living together with a heavy smoker, and unexpectedly saw her friend return from Limbo, if not actually from the dead. Yes, we do lead eventful lives, Kitty thought.

As the welcomes continued, Ororo came up to Kitty, looking as beautiful and self-assured as always. If she didn't love her so much -- first like a surrogate mother, then like an elder sister -- she'd feel envious of the way she always seem to achieve the kind of perfection Naomi Campbell and others had to spend hours in make-up to attain just by getting out of bed. Kitty had seen her friend go through many changes, not all to her liking and not all as dramatic as the time when Ororo started to be more open about her feelings, when she suddenly cut her hair in a mohawk and wearing studded leather. She seemed serene again, comfortable in a stylish, but simple black dress that would have been to light for the season on anyone but the weather-changing mutant.

"I'd say 'Welcome home, Kitten,'" said Storm as she was almost bowled over by her young ex-teammate's enthusiastic embrace, "but I guess Britain is your home now..."

The windrider quickly glanced towards Pete Wisdom, and both inclined their heads semi-formally. But their eye contact was soon interrupted as Rogue, having finished saying hello to her foster-brother, now approached the former secret agent. In the meantime, Kurt and Magneto busied themselves with the baggage while Rogue bowed down to touch Amanda's swollen belly. Kitty and Ororo resumed their conversation.

"Yeah, I suppose it really is. But Salem Center is too..." Kitty fondly smiled at her former teammates. "It's not this matter of 'once an X-Man, always and X-Man, or words to that effect. I mean, you, Ororo, you and Rogue and Logan and whoever, you're practically the only family I can actually visit when I go to the States."

The suitcases were now stowed in the transport, and not having used it for a long, long time, Kurt said: "Oh goody, we get to ride the monorail!" as they all got in.

Kitty could not resist, and piped up: "I hear those things are awfully loud?"

Kurt gleefully took the cue and answered: "It glides as softly as a cloud!"

Amanda joined in with: "Is there a chance the tracks could bend?"

"Not on your life, my Hindu friend!"

The three non-British members of Excalibur joyously launched into the song and dance routine. Meggan had turned them all into huge fans of The Simpsons, and as she liked playing the records, they knew the words by heart. And Amanda and Kitty just loved doing the voices.

"What about us brain-dead slobs?"

"You'll be given cushy jobs!"

"Were you sent here by the devil?"

"No, good sir, I'm on the level!"

"The ring came off my pulling can."

"Use my pen-knife, my good man.

I swear it's Springfield's only choice,

Throw up your hands and raise your voice:"

"Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!" Rogue lustily joined in on the chorus, while Magnus had a look of blank incomprehension on his face, Storm smiled amusedly and Pete Wisdom rolled up his eyes in despair over his teammates' silliness. And so to the strains of a song from a cartoon show the seven passengers hurtled through the curving tunnels towards their destination, the X-Mansion.

"But Main Street's still all cracked and broken!"

"Sorry mom, the mob has spoken!"


The four new arrivals were quartered in Rogue's and Magneto's old rooms. When he first returned to Xavier Mansion, less than a year ago, Magneto had taken a room in the dormitories, but soon he had found that that accommodation was not at all to his liking. Never too comfortable with larger groups of people (a legacy of living in the huge barracks in Auschwitz, where everybody was prevented from having any privacy at all), he finally had enough of continually encountering X-Men singly and in groups whenever he went from his room to Rogue's or vice versa. Rogue too soon had her fill of the way some of her teammates looked at her when she went into or came out of Magnus' door -- Scott's and Warren's surliness, Jean's way of not looking at her, Logan's leering grins (his idea of humor). Within a few months of Magnus moving into the Mansion the two lovers moved out together, into an old gamekeeper's lodge in the wooded part of the Xavier estate. And after Logan and the other team jokers had used up their Lady Chatterley wisecracks, everyone settled down to the new normality. The frictions between Magneto and the original X-Men (who had long been accustomed to despise Magneto as a living antithesis to their idolized mentor, to say nothing of the fact that they had fought against him for years since they were minors) took a while to erode. Of the four original X-Men currently in residence, only Iceman had warmed a little towards the team's new ally once he realized how happy his friend Rogue was with him.

As Kitty and the others now learned, Magneto's presence had had a bit of a catalytic effect on the discussions inside the team as well. Even some time before, the discussions about the best ways to make Charles Xavier's Dream a reality had somewhat intensified after Emma Frost started to participate in the policy-making councils as the co-headmistress of the 'freshman class'. This began to shift the balance among the more politically minded X-Men, where up until then Professor Xavier had normally prevailed over the occasional opposition from some of his later recruits by virtue of his authority and thanks to the unwavering support of his original five students. Although some of the 'new' X-Men could not always be bothered to conform to Charles's ideas of the proper modus operandi for underground mutant superheroes, Storm found herself with a lot less support when she confronted him e.g. over his 'the public needn't know' policy after Kurt, Kitty and Rachel had left for Britain and Psylocke became engrossed in her personal problems. Logan frequently affected boredom, saying he had given up on ever convincing 'Chuck' and his pet students (and although Wolverine was all for mutants coming out of the closet, he was quite the opposite on many other matters, a habit that dated back to his spying days, if not to the time before), and almost the only person Ororo could count on to listen to her arguments with an open mind was Rogue. With the White Queen added to the mix (she related the concerns of some of her pupils who were repelled by the prospect of having to hide what they were for the rest of their life, and in this she was sometimes supported by her colleague, Sean Cassidy), political discussions became livelier again. Rogue too, took a more active part in them and one memorable day revealed that part of the reason was that she had secretly started meeting Magneto and, among other things, discussing his view of the relationship between Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens superior with him. When she came out with this, she gave a concrete demonstration by taking Magneto into the conference room, there was immediate uproar.

For all that had happened in the past, Magnus and Charles Xavier still regarded each other as friends. True to his declared principle of not turning away anyone, Professor X invited Magneto to stay, and he agreed, provisionally. Although he did not become a full-time member, he helped out on bigger, more dangerous missions, such as the Onslaught crisis -- he did not want his profile to become too high or his association with the X-Men to make headlines too often. He also occasionally was invited to lecture on Mutant Civics at the Massachusetts Academy. Emma Frost felt strongly that her students should get to know the different approaches to mutant/non-mutant co-existence, and a month ago she had organized a Q&A session with Professor X and Magneto for them.

And not just in Snow Valley, but also in Graymalkin Lane discussions became more open and at times tempers would flare up. On one occasion that passed into Xavier Institute folklore, Cyclops compared Professor X to Martin Luther King once too often, causing Wolverine to growl: "As I recall, Brother Martin didn't go about in whiteface or teach Negroes how best t'disguise themselves as white folk."

When he picked himself off the wall against which Scott's optic beam had hurled him, he just grinned, saying it had been worth it, just to get that reaction. By which he primarily meant him losing his cool, not the giggles and laughs from some of the others present. Scott of course turned beet-red and ash-white and left the room. Charles Xavier was embarrassed as well, remembering how he had chided Kurt for no longer using his image inducer to disguise his appearance.

The four visitors from Britain had of course heard quite a bit about this through their regular communications with their American friends and ex-teammates, but now over lunch with the X-Men currently in residence. It became evident that although the old camaraderie still was there, it was now accompanied by more frequent discussions than before. Although the X-Men were still pretty much united in pursuing Xavier's dream, they were of different minds as to the best way how to arrive at that destination. And some of them had by now grown too cynical or too realistic to see the Dream as anything but an unattainable ideal, something that probably would never be entirely realized, but which, like perfection, they should aim for as they tried to make the world a better place.

The X-Men had grown more like a real family than before. As a family that bickers among itself but immediately closes ranks when an outsider attacks one of its members, so the X-Men would always stand up for each other, no matter how big their differences or personal antipathies were. But Kurt, Amanda, Kitty and (by extension) Pete were 'family', so at lunch they got a bit of an impression of how things were. Not a complete one though, because perennial opposites Cyclops and Wolverine were not there, the former having left for Anchorage to celebrate Christmas with his grandparents, and the latter having set off into the wilds of the Canadian tundra to get as far away from Christmas commercialism as possible.

After lunch, the guests went for a walk and wintry fun and games in the grounds of the estate, accompanied by Charles Xavier, Ororo, Warren, and Sam and Paige Guthrie, who had delayed their departure for Kentucky to await the Excalibur foursome's arrival.

Katherine Pryde took the lighted shammes, the candle that was the servant of the other eight, from its special holder in the Hanukkiah, the nine-branched bronze candelabrum standing on the window-ledge behind the table. Raising it a little, she began reciting the three blessings of the first evening of Hanukkah:

"Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu,
melech haolam, asher kideshanu
bemittsvotav, vetsivanu
lehadlik neir shel Channuka."*

It had all been Rogue's idea. Although Kitty now was with Excalibur longer than she had been with the X-Men, Rogue still was fond of her former teammate. On hearing that Kitty would be spending the holidays at the Mansion, she had suggested to Magnus that they got everything ready to celebrate the festival with her, "seein' that she cain't do it with her folks 'cause o' that witness protection thing." Magneto, who had for most practical purposes turned his back on his ancestral religion in Auschwitz, had somewhat reluctantly given in to her entreaties, in part because he remembered that there had been a connection between him and Kitty when he had last come to live in Westchester. So now, just after sundown, the guests crowded into the living room of Rogue and Magnus' lodge: The four 'Britons', Gabrielle Haller, Charles Xavier, Kitty's best friend Illyana Rasputina, and Magnus' daughter, Wanda Maximoff. Though not really a religious person, Rogue really had thrown herself into her project with gusto, making the decorations mostly by herself. Somewhat incongruously a few green and black garlands hung across the room among the white, blue and gold stars and 'Happy Hanukkah' banners -- Magneto had laughingly pointed out that the red and green garlands she had at first bought really were for 'that other winter festival', whereupon she had taken black paint to the red parts to reproduce the color combination of her X-Men costume "t'add a personal note."

Peter Wisdom watched Kitty attentively. Although he and Shadowcat were lovers for well over a year now, her obvious joy at performing this ceremony was a side of her he did not see often. She did not wear her religion on her sleeve as Rahne did on Muir Island or Sam did in America, but it was visible in her face that this was an important part of her identity -- this too was who and what she was, where she came from. It dawned on him that he would have to take her Jewishness into account in their future together more than he had at first assumed. Not that it bothered him. Especially compared to not being allowed to smoke when they were in an enclosed room together, it was actually be something he would enjoy exploring. He'd definitely have to take a greater interest in arrangements for Passover next year. Hmm, he hadn't been to a Seder since that time six years ago, when he helped Jardine track down the 'cabalist killer florist of Catford' (Lord, he hated tabloid headlines).

"Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu,
melech haolam, sheasa nisim
la-avoteinu bayemim haheim
bazeman hazeh."**

Kitty and Magneto had both lost kin in the Shoah, although in her case it was more distant and not as complete an annihilation as that of his family. Her grandfather had emigrated from Poland shortly after World War 1, but his sister, her great-aunt, Chava Rosanoff, was deported to Auschwitz in 1943, and there the man who would become Magneto met her and saw her die. Magneto remembered the day when he went with Kitty to the National Holocaust Memorial in Washington to inquire about her relative, and realized that the woman she was looking for had been someone whose death on the electrified barbed wire. A few months later, Kitty had almost critically wounded and stuck in mid-phase when the X-Men tried to stop Sinister's death-squad, the Marauders. He had set heaven and earth in motion to save her young life then, having to abase himself before Mister Fantastic and even risk indebting himself to Doctor Doom for because he and the X-Men did not possess the means to prevent Shadowcat from slowly disintegrating.

"Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu,
melech haolam, shehecheyanu
vekiyemanu vehigianu
lazeman hazeh."***

Katherine lit the first candle and then set the shammes back into its forward-curving holder. Magneto's mind traveled further back in time, back to his youth in Lithuania and the Hanukkah of 1939. The Red Army had already moved in to set up bases, but theoretically the country was still independent and at peace. His family had already been uprooted, forced to flee their home in the port of Memel earlier that year when the Nazis annexed it to Germany and abolished its Lithuanian name, Klaipéda. Unable to get visas to emigrate overseas, they moved to his grandparents' hometown of Kovno (Kaunas) and had to celebrate the festival of lights in a cramped apartment that simply did not bear comparison to the house his father had bought when he moved with his small import firm to Memel in 1924. But as the larger part of the family fortune had been lost in the World Economic Crisis of 1929, that was all they could afford. Hanukkah was a subdued affair in 1939, celebrated in the shadow of German troops in neighboring Poland and Soviet soldiers at home, but worse was to follow. In July 1940 Lithuania became a Soviet Republic, and less than a year later, his parents and sister were slaughtered by the Germans in a pit in a Belorussian field. Hanukkah was a festival of hope in the midst of darkness, but in 1939 that hope had been an illusion.

Rogue's heart went out to Magnus when she saw the tears running down his cheeks. She had worried a bit about what kind of events and emotions this journey back into her mate's past might drag up from the recesses of his memory. She wanted to comfort him, but Wanda, who also had noticed her father's silent grief was there before her to take his hand and squeeze it. Magneto gratefully looked in his daughter's eyes. As he kissed Wanda on the forehead, Rogue felt secretly pleased. During the three months the Scarlet Witch had spent with the X-Men, the barriers between Magneto and his estranged daughter had slowly eroded somewhat, but moments such as this were rare enough to be savored.

There still were things between them, things of which he now was ashamed -- especially his treatment of her and her brother Quicksilver in the early years of the original Brotherhood -- but they were at least talking. Wanda was becoming convinced that her father had turned over a new leaf, and she was beginning to see what had made him what he had been.

Back in a corner, Illyana sat silently, scratching the back of Lockheed's head. Although she tended to stay away from the daemonic realm she once ruled and was accustomed to the sight of a Star of David from the pendant her former roommate always wore, she felt a slight unease. Ambassador Haller and Professor Xavier stood together, immersed in thought and memories, maybe of the last time they had celebrated a Jewish festival together with Magneto, all those many years ago in Israel. Little Irene, secure in her brother Kurt's arm, enthusiastically pointed out the bright candles to Amanda. Strong Guy had brought her to Westchester the day before, awaiting the arrival of her parents, Mystique and Valerie Cooper on Christmas Day. At the moment they and some other members of X-Factor were in Germany, wrapping up a mission in Europe. Kurt, always glad to be with his baby half-sister had spent most of the afternoon playing with Irene.

After the lighting of the candle, it was now time for all to sing, starting with the traditional Maoz Tsur. Rogue, who had photocopied songsheets for herself and the other Gentiles attending, had been rather surprised to discover that it was sung to the tune based on that of a Martin Luther hymn. Charles Xavier of course was fluent in Hebrew since his first stay in Israel, but Illyana, Rogue, Pete, Kurt, Mandy and Wanda were a little halting as they joined in:

"Ma-oz tsur ye-shu-a ti,
le-cha na-eh le-she-bei-ach;
ti-kon beit te-fi-la-ti,
ve-sham to-da ne-za-bei-ach.
Le-eit ta-chin mat-bei-ach,
mi-tsar ha-me-na-bei-ach,
az eg-mor, be-shir miz-mor,
cha-nu-kat ha-mix-bei-ach."****

Little Irene was more remarkable for the enthusiasm of her contribution than for the correctness of her pronunciation. But that was not surprising, as she only was one-and-a-half years old. Those present noticed that Magneto sang the third verse with especial fervor. It was the one that had left the most lasting impression on him when he was a boy, and the one that still meant the most to him now. In English it runs:

"Children of the Maccabees,
Whether free or fettered,
Wake the echoes of the songs,
Where you may be scattered.
Yours the message cheering,
That the time is nearing,
Which will see
All men free,
Tyrants disappearing."

They sang a few other songs, both spiritual and more secular, before Rogue switched on the stereo and let Mendelssohn's Elias provide the background music for the rest of the evening.

"Time to unwrap the presents!" Nightcrawler gleefully announced. Rogue and Magneto had done most of the evening's preparations, but this was the part he contributed to, as Rogue had forewarned her 'stepbrother' of the surprise for Kitty. To tell the story of Hanukkah was not necessary -- the grownups knew it, and Irene was really too little to understand the concepts involved. There also were not that many presents, as there were still seven evenings of Hanukkah to come, not to mention the upcoming Christmas celebrations. Kitty got a silver cat-shaped pendant from Rogue, a Klezmatics CD from Magnus, a copper Hanukkiah from Gabrielle and comparable gifts from the others. Kurt's present made her Kitty laugh out loud: he had assembled a model of a demolished Blackbird, just as it had looked after Kitty's first Hanukkah in Salem Center. Kurt and Amanda had brought home-made dolls for the hosts, very much like the Bamf and Mandy dolls they had made for each other around the time that Rogue joined the X-Men. The Roguey doll for Magnus was a little furry skunk dressed in familiar black and green togs, while Rogue's Maggie doll looked more like a human, and wore a helmet that had been made from a toy kitchen pot. For Irene Kurt had brought a humming-top, remembering Margali telling him that when he was little, he had liked his humming-top best of all his toys, and that he fought with his foster-siblings over it until it broke. Magnus meanwhile gained indulgent smiles when he said that when he was young, all his parents gave him and his sister was a little Hanukkah Gelt, and more usually the chocolate kind, not real coins.

Then they sat down for supper, that is all except Irene, who had already been fed before and was busy playing with her top and the dolls. Rogue and Magneto had spent a large part of the afternoon in the kitchen, trying to get the latkes -- potato pancakes fried in oil -- just right, as Magnus's mother had made them. Today also being an occasion to welcome Kitty and the others to America and to the new house, the supper was a little bigger and more fancy than what they had in mind for the other nine nights. Not too big, of course, as the huge Christmas dinner at the Mansion loomed on the horizon. The main course was fish gebroten in smetene (fish baked in sour cream), for which Rogue had chosen carp, a popular dish for the winter holidays in Eastern Central Europe. But there also were the latkes (served with applesauce) and for afters an assortment of jelly doughnuts and traditional German Christmas cookies -- a contribution from Gabrielle Haller, whose family was from Berlin and for whom Hanukkah, Pfeffernüsse, Dominosteine, and Lebkuchen simply belonged together. Normally a Hanukkah celebration only lasts about half an hour, but tonight, when so many people who had not seen each other for so long were together, it was hardly surprising that the evening's conviviality continued for a few hours.

It was just after one a.m., but Rogue was still sitting up in bed, reading. The guests had left two hours ago, and shortly after so had Magneto. He wanted to take a walk along Breakstone Lake, to be alone with his thoughts. Rogue knew that Magnus sometimes needed these moments of lonely privacy and respected them. Although she itched to go out and look for him, she tried to read one of her childhood favorites, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which she had not read in almost a decade, but found it difficult to concentrate. She always kept listening for Magnus' footsteps.

Finally, he entered the bedroom. Rogue looked up from her book. "You okay, love?" she asked, "Ya look kinda worn thin..."

"Well, it was a busy day," he protested as he sat down on the bed beside her. They kissed in greeting.

Rogue sighed: "Maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Leastways as far as ya're concerned ah mean. Kitty an' the others seem t'have enjoyed it, all right. Ah'm sorry. Ah'd kinda hoped the celebration'd help ya bring back some nicer memories, 'specially considerin' how much fun we had in the kitchen in the afternoon, but ah reckon all this also stirred up some pretty bad ones. An' it was awful crowded with all the guests, an' ah know how hard it c'n be for ya to talk with more'n three people at a time."

"Well, that really could not be helped. When we invited Kitty, we couldn't well ask young Wisdom or Illyana to stay away. And it would have been rude not to invite Charles and Gaby. But you know, my love," he continued with a smile, "when we first started to date, you gave me the impression you had no relatives at all, and now their numbers seem to grow daily."
Rogue giggled at that quip, a reference to the time when she had first got seriously involved with the silver-haired master of magnetism, years ago in the Savage Land. At the time she had honestly believed that both her foster-mothers, Destiny and Mystique, were dead (in Destiny's case this belief was correct, in Mystique's it happily turned out to have been a deception) and she did not yet know about her two 'foster-brothers', Nightcrawler and Graydon Creed, and her foster-sister Irene was not yet a twinkle in Raven's eye. Magneto rarely talked about it, but one of the things that had drawn him to her then was her resilience in adversity, for Rogue then not only had lost her family, but also her powers (temporarily) and she had no idea if the X-Men were still alive or not. Yet she had refursed to fall into despair.

But Magnus continued with his answer: "As for the memories, those will always be a bit of both. As I told Wanda, it is impossible to think of the good times with my family when I was a boy before the war without remembering how they were butchered later or how few of the 35,000 Jews in Kovno survived the Shoah. While in 1944 there was no Hanukkah in Auschwitz, but we could see that the guards were getting nervous about the approaching front. A month later I finally managed to escape with Magda. And at least some of the tyrants really did disappear months before Hanukkah came around again."

"So ya're not mad at me for talkin' ya into this?"

"No, I guess it was almost cathartic. It reminded me that I am not just Magneto, 'Mutant Master of Magnetism', but I'll also always be Magnus, son of Jacob and Alma, survivor of a culture that was all but annihilated. Being with Kitty and Wanda reminded me of what I could have had if Anya hadn't died or Magda hadn't left me, but also that it is not entirely too late for me and my surviving children at least."

Rogue gratefully looked up to her man: "Well, ah'm glad ya took such an interest in this party. Ah first had thought of it just for Kitty, but thanks t'you ah also got t'know, t'understand you better. Ah mean, ah've had some glimpses through m'power, but they were always so jumbled... What ah'm tryin' to say..."

But no more words were necessary. All that needed to be said had been said. Rogue and Magnus kissed in close embrace, and then finally came to bed. As a couple, they liked to make love, but tonight they did not have to, it was enough to just hold one another and to fall asleep in each other's arms.


Continued in Chapter 2

* Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast hallowed us by thy commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of Hanukkah.
** Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who didst work miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
*** Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast kept us in life, and hast preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.
**** Rock of Ages, let our song/ Praise Your saving power;/ You, amid the raging foes/ Were our sheltering tower./ Furious, they assailed us,/ But Your arm availed us,/ And Your word/ Broke their sword,/ When our own strength failed us.


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